In today's post, we’re announcing new business hours to help improve the work / life balance for our employees. Over the last two years we have pushed everyone to the max with 60 and 70+ hour work weeks, by working through holidays and vacations, etc. Much of this was to get MAPI out the door while maintaining the existing Builds / versions of our products.
We’re fortunate to have a very close team of dedicated employees, which is one of the reasons why we’re able to accomplish so much. Thankfully, we’re just about at the point of being able to manage all our work moving forward with normal work schedules, along with the occasional “extra effort” that’s required to finish up projects.
So, beginning on January 13th, our office hours will be as follows: Monday – Thursday, from 7am – 4:30 pm MST (GMT -7)
Work from Home
As we progressed through the integration of MAPI, and working a large number of hours, we implemented an abbreviated work from home schedule, letting employees work offsite for two days a week. We did this to reduce some of the burden of spending hours away from family. Although it helped deal with the large number of hours, employees didn’t find it to be as beneficial as working in the office. There are several studies that support both the benefits and detriments of working from home, but we felt like it was something we didn’t want to implement further, or even continue to offer. We ran into a variety of issues, including various distractions encountered from children, pets, etc.; one or two employees asking for more work from home days even though we already provided a benefit; difficulties with teams discussing complex issues, etc. We eventually surveyed our employees and some of the feedback was:
- Some employees felt it negatively impacted their social life with others.
- Most employees felt they didn't accomplish as much as they did at the office.
- Most employees felt disconnected from other teams.
- Many employees felt communications and responses from other teams took longer than it did at the office.
- Everyone missed the camaraderie of being around their teams, and other teams.
The upshot was employees felt that working at the office was way more beneficial than working from home. So, beginning next week we’re no longer offering that as an option. Instead, we’re taking another suggestion from our employees, and moving to a 4-day work week....
Four Day Work Week
At the end of last year, there was a story circulating about how Microsoft was doing a trial in its Japanese offices: they’d work 4 days a week and give all employees a 3-day weekend. Initial results showed a 40% increase in worker productivity. There are multiple other studies that show the same thing: a better work/life split leads to more productive, and happier, employees. From our own poll, it was obvious that people preferred working at the office, but we didn’t want to limit or remove the extra time people were able to spend with their families.
So, we’re taking a cue from Microsoft and others: we’re eliminating work-from-home, and instead giving employees a 4-day, 36-hour work week.
SmarterTools works with over 100 different companies during our day-to-day operations. Surprisingly, we find most of them to be annoyingly bad at customer service. We never want that to be the experience of our customers. Compared to these other companies, we find ourselves to be significantly more responsive to customer issues on initial contact, on follow ups, with updates and status changes, and more. This will not change, and we will continue to find ways to improve.
Some of you may wonder why didn’t stagger employees’ 4-day work weeks to cover Friday’s. The simple answer is, we find having all resources available is critical to our success. We are not a large company and having access to critical resources is better than having someone answer a ticket or chat without the proper internal escalation path. The 4 days we are here, all resources are available to make sure every answer can be provided to the best of our abilities.
The fact is we work hard, and we demand a lot from our employees. However, we can certainly offset that expectation with a solid, healthy and fulfilling work/life balance. And that’s what we’re doing with this change. It may change how you work with us moving forward, but rest assured that we’re here, and we’ll continue to be available, be responsive, and help you with any issues you may have.
It is our intention to ALWAYS be available if a crisis occurs, so we even lowered our cost of 24x7x365 emergency support, making it easier for you to get in touch with us whenever you need us.
We consider ourselves to be a progressive company. This mindset carries into how we approach our products, and the development cycles around our products, as well as the environment we provide our employees. Some things work and some things aren’t as beneficial as we thought they’d be. However, we try to do our best, be flexible and try new ways to improve all aspects of our business.
We look forward to continuing our partnership with you throughout 2020, and making it an incredible and successful year for us all!